MAPS board hears update on school realignment

A number of items were discussed at the Marquette Area Public Schools Board meeting Monday night.

The board heard an update on the possible realignment of the district’s three elementary schools:  Cherry Creek, Sandy Knoll and Superior Hills.

The school board is proposing to streamline its elementary schools.  Right now, each elementary school has different grade levels:  a K-3, K-4, and K-5.

For the past few months, realignment of the schools–along with Bothwell Middle School–has been discussed due to spacing issues.

“What we’re trying to do is come up with a plan to alleviate some of that space, and also provide a little more equity, so as a parent if I move into the district I know my child is always going to be in a K-5 school or a K-4 school–whatever it is–instead of having one be  K-3, K-4, K-5,” MAPS Interim Superintendent Bill Saunders said.  “We’re trying to provide a little more equity in that light, and we also have some other school space like Graveraet where our alternative high school is.”

Graveraet, currently used for Marquette’s Alternative High School, could be turned into a K-5 building.  The Alternative High School Students would move to Vandenboom Childhood Development Center.

“A lot of it comes down to cost, and we don’t have the cost to build a new elementary school,” Saunders said.  “We would do a little refurbishing, but it would be a K-5 building.”

“State code requires that kindergarten and first graders are on the first floor, so that takes some of those precautions into consideration because they don’t have to travel the steps or do anything like that.”

The board will vote on realignment at their next meeting on December 2.

Teacher union contract negotiations were also on the agenda, but no agreement was made.

Saunders told ABC 10 the board does release statements to the media regarding negotiations.

Marquette Area Education Association Co-Presidents Don Barr and Nathan Larson released a written statement to ABC 10 that said:

“The Marquette teachers have been working with an expired contract since June 30, 2013. After several negotiation meetings, the MAEA and MAPS district negotiating teams have yet to reach tentative agreement. The MAEA will continue to work with the school board negotiating team to ratify a fair contract that serves the best interests of our district.”